Federico Valverde called his crucial tackle on Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata in Real Madrid's Supercopa de Espana final success in January "a clean foul".

Uruguay international Valverde was shown a straight red card for a tactical foul on Morata, who was set to shoot in a one-on-one with Thibaut Courtois in the 25th minute of extra time.

Atletico were unable to convert the free-kick or make the most of their numerical advantage in the closing stages, with Madrid going on to triumph 4-1 on penalties in Jeddah.

Valverde only received a one-game ban for the challenge, which he says was a calculated decision taken with no malice.

Asked about the incident, Valverde told ABC: "I don't know if it put me in the heart of Real Madrid fans, but I am not proud of committing a foul against an opponent.

"I don't know anyone who likes fouls. The ideal is to end a game without making any, but fouls are part of football.

"But what I would really not be proud of is not doing anything for my team in that, or any, passage of play.

"It was a clean foul, not done to injure, of course!"

Valverde has made 32 appearances in all competitions for Madrid in 2019, 23 of which have come as part of Zinedine Zidane's starting line-up.

However, the 21-year-old does not feel like he has firmly established himself as one of the team's leading players.

"I don't feel like I've experienced my confirmation [as a Madrid player]. I continue with the mentality of the first day I entered the biggest dressing room in the world," said Valverde.

"There are many players here who are stars, who have been confirmed for a long time and I know from them that, to feel like you have earned a place in the team, you have to toil a lot beforehand. I am just toiling. My goals are clear in my head: learn and give everything."

Asked if he would like to spend the rest of his career with Madrid, Valverde replied: "It's the dream. I don't want to be anywhere other than at Real Madrid.

"I would like nothing more than to be useful and necessary for my dream team."

Diego Simeone fully expected Federico Valverde to be given only a short suspension following his crucial foul on Alvaro Morata in the Supercopa de Espana final.

With the score 0-0 in the final five minutes of extra time in Jeddah, Atletico Madrid's Morata raced through on goal only for Valverde to bring down the striker to halt his progress.

Valverde, who was later named man of the match, was sent off for the deliberate foul but went on to celebrate when Real Madrid won the penalty shoot-out 4-1.

Simeone had few qualms with the challenge at the time, insisting he would likely have done the same to win the match, and the Atleti boss was also not surprised to see Valverde earn only a one-game ban.

"I was clear after the match, saying that was what he had to do," Simeone said on Friday ahead of a LaLiga trip to Eibar. "I was also clear about what would happen.

"It doesn't make sense to wear myself out today on something that we already knew would happen. That's why I'm focusing on Eibar.

"We're in the middle of the season and there's still a lot of work ahead. There are things to improve. We worked well until September, then things were more difficult in November.

"Then we grew and we kept that up in the Supercopa. We're competing well and I'm proud to have competed well against a team like Real Madrid that is powerful in all senses."

The Supercopa final was another difficult game for €126million forward Joao Felix, but Simeone insists the Portugal international is learning all the time.

"The Supercopa was another step forward in the experience of a 20-year-old boy with incredible talent and skill. This road he's walking will be useful for the future," Simeone said.

"We believe in him; we need his skills. He has the ability to score. We hope that these experiences he's living in this new team help him to get stronger and grow day after day.

"We're the ones in charge to find their better version and find the better position so they can unlock their potential. I don't do things differently with Joao than with [Renan] Lodi, [Hector] Herrera, Koke or Saul [Niguez].

"We always try to do the best so players with that potential can put it to good use for the club and the team, so we're working with him and Lodi, the younger ones, so they can grow."

This weekend is the first round of LaLiga matches since Ernesto Valverde was sacked as Barcelona head coach in the wake of their 3-2 Supercopa semi-final loss to Atleti.

"I'm not the one to give an opinion about what happens to others," Simeone said. "Valverde is a really great coach. He left his team in first place in the league and still alive in the Champions League.

"He is a great person and has always been polite and exemplary as he managed the situation."

Given he delivered back-to-back LaLiga titles and left Barcelona still at the summit, Ernesto Valverde's departure appears perplexing on the surface.

There has been no great decline to speak of, no obvious player revolt and no boardroom bickering.

Why then have the Blaugrana opted to part ways with their head coach and replace him with Quique Setien, a man who could only lead Real Betis to a 10th-place finish last term?

We have taken a look at the five games which might have ultimately resulted in Valverde's exit.

Roma 3-0 Barcelona. Champions League quarter-final second leg. April 10, 2018.

After being beaten in both legs of the Supercopa de Espana by Real Madrid to begin his reign, things picked up for Valverde, who enjoyed a 36-match unbeaten run at the beginning of the 2017-18 LaLiga campaign.

However, two and a half weeks before that title triumph was sealed, Barcelona were stunned in Europe.

Valverde's side were in control of the tie having beaten the Serie A side 4-1 at home, but Roma became only the third side in Champions League history to overturn a first-leg deficit of three goals or more.

Greek defender Kostas Manolas scored the crucial third goal eight minutes from time as Roma went through on away goals and Valverde suffered his first, but not last, European humiliation.

Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona. Champions League semi-final second leg. May 7, 2019.

Fast forward a year and a case of deja vu, with Barca sitting pretty on a 3-0 first-leg lead in their last-four tie against Liverpool.

The Reds were without Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino for the return fixture at Anfield, where Divock Origi's early goal only gave them a sliver of hope.

Yet Barca looked shell-shocked as Georginio Wijnaldum's double was followed up by another Origi strike, Liverpool incredibly progressing to a final they would win.

Described in the Spanish press as a "debacle", "tragedy" and "historic failure", the writing seemed to be on the wall for Valverde from that point.

Barcelona 1-2 Valencia. Copa del Rey final. May 25, 2019. 

Not even a second LaLiga title could silence Valverde's doubters, who had more ammo when his team lost to Valencia in the Copa del Rey final.

Valverde had hoped a victory would ease the pain of the Liverpool loss but Barca were stunned again, Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo putting Valencia 2-0 ahead before Lionel Messi pulled one back.

Rather than wield the axe, though, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu absolved Valverde of blame for the result.

 

Espanyol 2-2 Barcelona. LaLiga. January 4, 2020.

Away defeats to Athletic Bilbao, Granada and Levante would have looked costlier had the champions' nearest rivals Real Madrid not stumbled along themselves in the first half of this season.

Both teams' struggles were evident in a 0-0 Clasico draw at Camp Nou in December, but it was Barcelona's first result back after the mid-season break that would have set more alarm bells ringing.

Derby rivals Espanyol were bottom of the table and had not beaten Barca in LaLiga since 2009 but Frenkie de Jong was sent off as the strugglers claimed a 2-2 draw.

Barcelona 2-3 Atletico Madrid. Supercopa de Espana semi-final. January 9, 2020.

Five days later and it got even worse for Valverde and Barcelona.

Leading 2-1 in Saudi Arabia with nine minutes to go, the Blaugrana collapsed again late on, with Alvaro Morata and Angel Correa sending Atletico through to a final against their cross-city rivals Madrid.

It meant Barcelona had won just one of their previous five games, a sour note to end on for Valverde.

Zinedine Zidane said winning nine trophies in nine finals is what Real Madrid are about after the Spanish giants reigned supreme in the Supercopa de Espana decider.

After a scoreless 90 minutes and extra time, Madrid overcame city rivals Atletico Madrid 4-1 in a penalty shoot-out in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

Madrid captain Sergio Ramos tucked home the winning penalty as Zidane preserved his perfect record in finals as head coach of the LaLiga powerhouse with nine from nine.

"In the end, we're all together and we prepared the matches well," said Zidane, who has won LaLiga, three Champions Leagues, two UEFA Super Cups and as many FIFA Club World Cup and Supercopa titles across two stints in Madrid.

"I don't know why we've won nine out of nine. It's because that's what this club is like. It hasn't been easy, we've been patient, calm.

"At half-time, we didn't know how to get closer to goal, but we had patience. We believed until the end, like always.

"Winning a trophy is never easy and even less so against Atletico. Both teams had chances.

"We're still in lots of competitions. We have to be happy, but there's still lots to come. We have to keep working.

"We'll rest a bit and play again, as we can't think about dropping [our level].

"Now, we're going to enjoy ourselves, but there's still a long way to go in LaLiga Santander, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey."

The final went to penalties after Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde was sent off for hacking down Alvaro Morata and denying a goalscoring opportunity.

The match-saving tactical foul thwarted Atletico and eventually ensured Madrid triumphed as Valverde was named man of the match.

"He was given man of the match and I'm happy for him because he did a great job," Zidane said. "I'm sure that he wants to share it with his team-mates.

"He did what he had to do, he made a crude foul but he did it well. And in the end, the important thing is that he's apologised to Alvaro."

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez described head coach Zinedine Zidane as a "blessing from heaven" after his latest final triumph.

Zidane has won each of his finals as Madrid coach, taking his tally of successes to nine with a tense victory against Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana on Sunday.

Madrid won 4-1 on penalties after a goalless draw, scraping to a shoot-out after Federico Valverde was sent off for a cynical foul on a goalbound Alvaro Morata late in extra time.

This was the first title of Zidane's second stint as Madrid boss - the first returning three straight Champions League wins - but Perez is confident the Frenchman is ready to deliver further success.

"[Zidane] has plenty of trophies and we're very happy for him," Perez said, as reported by Marca. "I hope that he wins more trophies.

"Zidane has a loving relationship with Real Madrid. He decided to rest for a year and now he's returned with renewed energy. Zidane is a blessing from heaven."

Perez felt the triumph at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Jeddah was particularly impressive given the absence of a number of key men, including Eden Hazard, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.

"We came here without some great players like Hazard, Benzema and Bale," he said. "Zidane has been able to put together a team and we won the trophy.

"I think that we're on the path to finding ourselves again after a little dip. New people have come in who have given the team intensity and we're on a good path."

But Perez reserved some praise for goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who saved from Thomas Partey in the shoot-out.

"We brought [Courtois] here because we believe that he's the best goalkeeper in the world, and he has been," Perez said. "He was one of the key players in the victory."

Federico Valverde was named the MVP of the Supercopa de Espana final despite a cynical extra-time red card that prompted the Real Madrid midfielder to apologise to Alvaro Morata.

Ten-man Madrid beat city rivals Atletico Madrid on penalties after a goalless draw in Saudi Arabia.

But former Madrid star Morata might have proven the hero for Atleti in the 115th minute had Valverde not taken drastic action, chopping down the striker from behind as he bore down on goal.

Atleti reacted furiously to the challenge, and their mood was not improved when Thibaut Courtois made a crucial save from Thomas Partey in the shoot-out.

Madrid won 4-1 and Valverde was then pronounced the man of the match. Facing the media due to the award, he offered an apology.

"I apologise to Alvaro Morata," he said. "I know it's not good what I did, but I didn't have any other option."

Valverde has consistently impressed this season and added of a breakout campaign: "I'm very happy. It's something you train for, you work for, you fight for, to have good results.

"Things are working out well. I'm getting minutes on the pitch, playing, the team is winning. It's fantastic. I'm enjoying every minute of my life, an amazing time.

"As well as winning titles with the team, I am also going to become a father. So many positive things are happening and I'm trying my best to enjoy them."

Diego Simeone was proud of Atletico Madrid's performance in defeat to city rivals Real Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana final as he suggested Federico Valverde only earned the MVP award for his crucial red card.

Atletico lost 4-1 in a shoot-out on Sunday but had a huge chance to settle the decider with five minutes of extra time remaining following a goalless 90 minutes in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Alvaro Morata raced through on goal, only for Madrid midfielder Valverde to charge back to cynically hack down the striker, receiving his marching orders but preventing what appeared a certain goal just outside the area.

Valverde was named man of the match at King Abdullah Sport City Stadium, leaving head coach Simeone frustrated, even if he recognised the 21-year-old Uruguayan had little option but to commit the foul.

"The MVP award for Fede Valverde was for the red card because he won the game," Simeone said.

"The most important play of the game was this action of Valverde. That play deprived us of a chance to score a goal that would probably decide the game.

"It was the most important play and I told him not to worry, that anyone would do the same in that position. I would do it."

After beating Barcelona 3-2 in the semi-finals earlier in the week, Simeone saw plenty of positives to take from the revamped four-team tournament.

"I am proud to know that we competed," he told Movistar. "In the space of three or four days, we faced two of the best teams in the world, along with Manchester City, Juventus, Liverpool.

"And we competed well. That is what generates enthusiasm to continue working. I am proud of the team for their competitiveness. If we follow the team plan, we are competitive."

Thibaut Courtois revealed a late review of Atletico Madrid's penalties helped him step up for Real Madrid in their Supercopa de Espana victory on Sunday.

Madrid claimed the trophy for an 11th time thanks to a 4-1 penalty shootout win after the derby clash finished locked at 0-0 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Saul Niguez hit the post for Atletico in the shootout before Courtois denied Thomas Partey, continuing his improved form for the LaLiga giants.

Courtois said he was always confident of saving Thomas' penalty, while he was happy with another clean sheet.

"I reviewed the penalties on the bench," the goalkeeper said, via AS.

"Saul surprised me a little, but Thomas I knew clearly. He shot it very hard and very strong.

"I am very happy for another zero goals conceded and with good stops. This is very important."

Madrid were reduced to 10 men late in extra time when Federico Valverde cynically brought down Alvaro Morata, who was through on goal.

Courtois praised his team, who host Sevilla in LaLiga on Saturday, for making the most of Valverde's tackle.

"We are very happy. It was a hard-fought match against Atletico. Their style of play is waiting for an error from the other team," he said.

"They could have taken advantage of that a few times. I managed to save some, Fede stopped one.

"I think I could stop Alvaro by coming out, but he got away and Fede made the tackle. We took advantage of that well and we were the more confident team in the penalty shootout."

Ninety minutes was not enough to separate Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana final on Sunday.

Madrid emerged victorious in a penalty shoot-out in Jeddah after extra time finished with the two sides still locked at 0-0.

It marked the fifth straight time a single-game final between the city rivals has gone to the additional 30 minutes.

Here we look back at an incredible run of all-Madrid marathons.

 

2013 Copa del Rey final: Real Madrid 1-2 Atletico Madrid

The third trophy won by Diego Simeone with Atletico, the Rojiblancos beat their rivals in their own backyard in a dramatic final at the Santiago Bernabeu that saw then Madrid boss Jose Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gabi sent off.

Ronaldo had put Madrid ahead by converting Mesut Ozil's corner in the 14th minute, but Diego Costa equalised after being played in by Radamel Falcao and Miranda's near-post header sealed a famous triumph for Atletico.

2014 Champions League final: Real Madrid 4-1 Atletico Madrid

Having beaten Barcelona and Madrid to a shock LaLiga title, Atletico appeared poised to deny Los Blancos 'La Decima' after Diego Godin opened the scoring in Lisbon. However, Sergio Ramos' superb 93rd-minute header forced extra time, and goals from Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Ronaldo secured European glory for Carlo Ancelotti's men.

2016 Champions League final: Real Madrid 1-1 Atletico Madrid (5-3 pens)

More heartbreak on European football's grandest stage for Atletico as Madrid again denied them a first Champions League crown. Ramos bundled home the opener for Madrid but, after Antoine Griezmann struck the crossbar from the spot, Yannick Carrasco fired in from Juanfran's cross to level. However, Juanfran hit the post in the only miss of the shoot-out, Ronaldo confidently converting the winning penalty and giving Madrid their 11th European title and first of three in a row under Zinedine Zidane.

2018 UEFA Super Cup: Real Madrid 2-4 Atletico Madrid

Atletico laid down an early marker ahead of the 2018-19 season in a hugely entertaining Super Cup. Costa opened the scoring with a ferocious finish from a tight angle in the first minute in Tallinn and equalised after Karim Benzema's header and a Ramos penalty turned the contest on its head.

Saul Niguez's stunning volley gave Atletico a 3-2 lead in extra time and Koke added a fourth to seal victory, though it proved a false dawn as they finished 11 points behind Barcelona in LaLiga and went out in the last 16 of the Champions League. For Madrid, it was the start of a dismal season in which Julen Lopetegui and Santiago Solari endured disappointing tenures before Zidane was brought back.

2020 Supercopa de Espana: Real Madrid 0-0 Atletico Madrid (4-1 pens)

The final of the first four-team Supercopa in Saudi Arabia provided a disappointing spectacle, as Madrid and Atletico meandered to a goalless draw light on incident in normal time. There was a tempestuous end to extra time as Madrid midfielder Federico Valverde was sent off and, for Atletico, a disappointingly familiar finale as Ramos slotted home the decisive spot-kick.

It was a game that illustrated just how evenly matched the neighbours are, with Atletico going into the second half of the LaLiga season aiming to eradicate their five-point deficit to Madrid and leaders Barca.

Real Madrid won their 11th Supercopa de Espana title as Sergio Ramos tucked home the winning spot-kick to see off city rivals Atletico Madrid 4-1 in a penalty shootout after a dismal goalless draw.

With Atleti having failed to convert their opening two penalties, Madrid captain Ramos proved their nemesis again when he sent Jan Oblak the wrong way.

Federico Valverde and Alvaro Morata - against his former club - spurned the best opportunities of a dour 90 minutes at King Abdullah Sports City stadium on Sunday, though the quality did improve in extra-time.

However, a string of excellent saves from both goalkeepers, either side of Valverde's late red card, forced penalties, with Saul Niguez and Thomas Partey missing from the spot.

Ramos thkept his composure to take the title back to Santiago Bernabeu after Dani Carvajal, Rodrygo and Luka Modric also hit the target from 12 yards.

 

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has saluted "absolute winner" Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid's winning mentality ahead of the Supercopa de Espana final.

Madrid and Atletico go head-to-head in Jeddah on Sunday as they tussle for the first trophy of the Spanish season.

The revamped Supercopa has received plenty of criticism due to it taking place in Saudi Arabia and including teams that otherwise would not have been involved in previous years, as the competition used to be contested between the winners of the Copa del Rey and LaLiga.

Neither Madrid nor Atletico won either competition last term, yet they will play out the final, with Simeone well aware of Los Blancos' obsession with winning.

Zidane may be without several high-profile players but, after they dispatched Valencia easily, Simeone does not think such absences will be a factor.

"Madrid are a team we know very well, they have a coach who is an absolute winner," Simeone told reporters on Saturday.

"Every time they play, they transmit that they have to win and they do win. They are without [Karim] Benzema, [Gareth] Bale and [Eden] Hazard, but that doesn't change a thing, they'll be looking to field their strongest side.

"Their distribution is excellent and they'll have players arriving to join the attack from midfield.

"They've got Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo [Goes], and if they play the team will have more velocity and more possession, so we will have to think about how we can attack those positions and punish them in the way we want."

In Zidane's pre-match news conference, the Frenchman insisted he is a better coach now than when he guided Madrid to three successive Champions League crowns – beating Atletico to lift the first of those in 2015-16.

Simeone has a similar feeling for his own abilities, convinced he is getting better with age.

"It's like life itself, we improve with age," he said. "All of the experience you build up with time helps you to develop.

"I think I've grown in life and in sport, and I'm a believer that you can't really separate the two."

Zinedine Zidane believes he is a better coach now than he was when he led Real Madrid to three Champions League successes.

Zidane returned for a second spell in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu in March 2019, 10 months after departing the club in the aftermath of guiding them to a third successive continental crown.

His return has not always been plain sailing with Madrid ending last season third in LaLiga, 19 points adrift of arch-rivals Barcelona while both Spanish giants - who are tied atop the table - have been largely underwhelming this term.

He has found some joy in the Supercopa de Espana, however, with his team through to Sunday's final against Atletico Madrid following Wednesday's 3-1 defeat of Valencia.

And Zidane suggested he has learned from both his time away from the game and the club's recent, relative struggles.

He told reporters: "Yes, I think I'm better. I feel like I have developed. In life too, as a person.

"You learn from situations, from the people around you. I make sure to listen to the people who are alongside me, and my aim to is to keep on progressing."

Atleti beat Barca 3-2 in Thursday's second semi-final and Zidane is expecting a difficult encounter.

"They're a side who have always shown how strong they are," he said.

"They defend well, but they also attack very well, too. Both Atletico and Barcelona are very strong teams, so we were always going to have to be on our mettle."

Zidane refused to dwell too deeply on the story dominating the sporting agenda in Spain: Xavi's potential return to Barca as coach at the end of the season.

The Frenchman said the speculation surrounding his Barca counterpart Ernesto Valverde came with the territory.

He told reporters: "That happens to all of us as coaches. What he's going through is something we all go through as coaches."

Diego Simeone hailed Atletico Madrid for achieving the "almost impossible" to overcome Barcelona in the Supercopa de Espana semi-finals.

Atletico stunned Barca with two goals in the final nine minutes in a 3-2 victory in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

Alvaro Morata's penalty and Angel Correa's strike saw Atletico into the final against rivals Real Madrid and the comeback was labelled as close to impossible by head coach Simeone.

"I think we must live it with calmness, that we qualified for the final. It is important for the supporters, it is important for the club, it is important for the players," he told a news conference.

"It was a very tough game against one of the best teams in the world. They are the best when it comes to possession, and to attack with it.

"We suffered quite a lot during the first half. I think the second half was different, they kept their intensity and had chances until the 75tth minute, when something appeared that will always distinguish Atletico Madrid – the heart, the strength and the belief.

"We faced a difficult situation, almost impossible. But, we had the feeling that if we could get an equaliser, we could win the game, and that's what happened."

Atletico face another huge test in the final, taking on Real Madrid in Jeddah on Sunday.

Simeone paid tribute to Atletico's rivals and their boss, Zinedine Zidane, ahead of the clash.

"I don't have any doubt that Zidane is a fantastic manager, suitable for Real Madrid," he said.

"The results speak for themselves. They have changed since the beginning of the season and that's reflected on the pitch despite the absence of [Eden] Hazard, [Karim] Benzema and [Gareth] Bale.

"They have five midfielders on the pitch. They can do it if they move and pass accurately. They showed this the other day [against Valencia] with a great performance.

"We'll face a potent and strong team as it is with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, Liverpool."

Guillermo Amor played down suggestions Ernesto Valverde was close to being sacked after Barcelona's Supercopa de Espana loss to Atletico Madrid.

Barca conceded twice in the final nine minutes in a 3-2 semi-final defeat to Atletico in Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

While they are top of LaLiga, Barca have won just one of their past five games, a period which has included three draws to reportedly put the pressure on Valverde once more.

However, Amor – the club's director of institutional and sporting relations – played down talk Valverde was close to being sacked.

"It has bothered us a lot to lose. We continue, this is very long," he told Movistar+.

"There are many and very important [games]. Of this you say about Valverde, there is nothing."

After Koke's 46th-minute opener, Barca led thanks to goals from Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann.

However, Alvaro Morata's penalty brought Atletico level before Angel Correa scored the winner four minutes from the end.

Amor lamented the result, with Messi and Gerard Pique both having goals disallowed by VAR for marginal offside decisions.

"When you have played football, you know that these things can happen, especially in important games with strong teams," he said.

"What you think is won, you can lose. In the summary of the game, I think we have dominated the first half.

"They advance and the two goals that were annulled indicate that we were close and we were superior."

Lionel Messi believes Barcelona played well in their Supercopa de Espana defeat to Atletico Madrid, but has called on Ernesto Valverde's side to cut out "child mistakes".

Barca went down 3-2 to Diego Simeone's side in Thursday's semi-final in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, as Atleti teed up a final with Real Madrid.

After Koke had opened the scoring for Atleti, Messi equalised with a fine strike before Antoine Griezmann put Barca ahead against his former club.

But with Barca having had two goals disallowed by VAR, Atleti came from behind to claim a dramatic win thanks to Alvaro Morata's penalty and Angel Correa's effort.

Messi insists Barca must not be too down about the level of their display, though conceded they cannot continue making basic errors.

"It is a pity, we played a great game, after a long time we returned to have good feelings, having control and attacking all the time," Messi told reporters.

"We lost due to specific errors when they were almost out, in less than 10 minutes they had a result that we should have closed.

"Today we took a step beyond defeat but we are aware that we have not been doing things as we want, we do not want to make child mistakes again.

"It hurts because it is a title and we wanted to be in the final and win it, we played a good game but unfortunately we did not get the victory.

"We are still working and trying to improve, now we will have more days to prepare the next game, we have much to improve and although we have not been doing good games we will try to recover the game."

The defeat will put more scrutiny on the position of Valverde, but Messi insists the squad must stick together behind their coach.

"It is normal when there are defeats and the objectives are not achieved," Messi added.

"People see that their team does not play as they would like, as we would like, it is normal for them to talk but we have to be closer than ever, it is a difficult situation because we missed a title we wanted but we have to look forward."

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